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Redskins aimed to bolster special teams in later rounds

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Redskins aimed to bolster special teams in later rounds

The Redskins put a increased emphasis on bolstering special teams in this year’s draft, particularly with their selections in Rounds 3-7, Coach Jay Gruden said.

“Well, our special teams have not been very good the last couple years and it’s an area that we have to improve,” he said. “You really only improve special teams by improving your depth, and when your depth becomes improved, then your special teams becomes improved.”

General Manager Scot McCloughan, meantime, noted that late round prospects he believed could help on special teams had a special symbol next to their name.

“We took players first for the primary position, but I wanted guys that could for sure come in here and be quality backups, if not starters, and be really good on special teams, be core special teams guys,” McCloughan said. “They were all marked with a certain symbol on the card, and that was very important to me—always will be.”

Among the 10 picks the Redskins made, Gruden said he expects players such as running back Matt Jones, wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Evan Spencer, linebacker Martrell Spaight and safety Kyshoen Jarrett to immediately contribute on special teams, which were better last season after a disastrous 2013 but still have much room for improvement.

“I think these [players] are good fits for us and they’re going to come in and they know on Day 1 that it’s ‘special teams one, position number two.’ That’s the way you crack into the lineup,” Gruden said. “That’s the way you crack into the NFL is by dominating special teams, making your mark in Coach [Ben] Kotwica’s room, and then when your opportunity is called out there at your position, you make the most of it. But, they all have to be good on special teams.”

Gruden described Spencer, a 6-2, 208-pound wide out from Ohio State, as a "demon" on special teams.

"Excellent special team player—excellent, excellent, excellent—and he’s going to make that room better," Gruden said. "A very, very good, positive, tough football player."

As for Crowder, Gruden said he could be the Redskins’ new punt returner. The Duke product averaged 13.4 yards per return in college and took four back for touchdowns.

“I could envision it,” Gruden said, asked if Crowder could be the Redskins’ Wee 1 returner. “He’s been productive at it when he’s had the opportunity. He’s such a good receiver at Duke that they probably didn’t use him as much they would liked to have because he was such a key weapon for them on offense. But he’s the type of guy did a lot for them and he’s got the great, quick first step and he is a natural at punt returner.”

RELATED: [Ranking the Redskins' draft picks]

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Adrian Peterson's kids and the Internet are why he designed that shoe-in-facemask shirt

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@AdrianPeterson

Adrian Peterson's kids and the Internet are why he designed that shoe-in-facemask shirt

Luke Kuechly was just trying to make a tackle.

During the Redskins-Panthers Week 6 matchup, the Carolina star dove to wrap up Adrian Peterson and, like many, many, many before him, failed to bring the RB down.

Unfortunately for Kuechly, something else happened on the play that is going to help it live on much longer than your routine defensive mistake.

That something, of course, is that Peterson's cleat came off in the collision and lodged itself in Kuechly's facemask. And the uniqueness of that is why Peterson is now selling T-shirts commemorating it:

"I thought it was pretty cool," Peterson said Thursday in the 'Skins' locker room when asked why he felt moved to create the shirts, of which there are three to choose from on his site. "My kids got a big kick out of it. Obviously, the Internet did as well."

No. 26 has carried the ball 2,651 times in his career but said he's never had an attempt go like that one that involved his footwear and Kuechly's headgear.

However, because he's a legend, Peterson was able to deal with the lost shoe and still go on to pick up a nice chunk of yards as well as a first down.

"As I'm breaking free and I feel my shoe coming off, the only thing on my mind is, 'OK, let me make sure I plant my foot in a way where I don't slip,'" he explained. "That was the only thing I was focusing on on that play."

Will Kuechly get a shirt, though? After all, without him, they wouldn't exist in the first place.

"I might send him one," Peterson said.

What's lower: the odds of Kuechly wearing that shirt should Peterson ever send it along or the odds of another shoe finding its way into the linebacker's facemask? 

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Crowder, Richardson headline long list of injury questions for Redskins during Dallas week

Crowder, Richardson headline long list of injury questions for Redskins during Dallas week

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden joked about optimism when going over the team's injury report, but that might be the coach's only way to deal with the current situation. 

Receivers Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson did not practice on Thursday, and their status for Sunday seems murky at best. Crowder was spotted at Redskins Park using a scooter to keep his weight off his injured ankle, and while Richardson was seen walking around, his knee remains an issue. 

There was some good news, however, that Chris Thompson and Shawn Lauvao practiced, albeit in a limited role. 

Getting Thompson back on the field would be a big help for the Redskins offense, and alleviate some pressure off Adrian Peterson. The future Hall of Famer did not practice Wednesday as he is dealing with a host of injuries, including his shoulder and knee. 

The one player Gruden said he did not have optimisim in a return this week was rookie safety Troy Apke. There has been some conversation about possibly moving him to the injured reserve, but that has not happened yet. 

The Redskins currently have one open roster spot as the team released veteran defensive lineman Ziggy Hood earlier this week. With all the concerns at wideout, maybe Washington uses that spot to bring up a practice squad player to support the unit. 

UPDATE (5:20 p.m.): The Redskins announced that they have elevated receiver Jehu Chesson from their practice squad to the active roster.

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